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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER teachers, and of foster parents (the latter are mentioned here mostly in connection with the sagas, but occur in many other forms of literature too).The editors point out that most of the information available about mothering comes, inevitably, from male writers, but there are some fe­ male sources who are not tapped here, such as Christine de Pizan.We might also ask what and where are the gaps between aristocratic and nonaristocratic mothering; very little is said here about life outside courts and noble households.These essays vary considerably in quality, but the topic is a rich one; it is to be hoped that the appearance of this volume will prompt further studies of medieval mothering, both liter­ ary and historical. ELIZABETH ARCHIBALD University of Victoria 0.S. PICKERING, ed.Individuality and Achievement in Middle English Poetry. Cambridge: D.S.Brewer, 1997.Pp.xi, 227.$7 1 .0 0. In his preface, 0.S.Pickering remarks that "the influence of a 1960s English department dies hard," and this collection of critical essays cer­ tainly does reflect many ofthe formalistapproaches that dominated me­ dieval criticism during the 1960s and 7 0s.Indeed, one of the explicit purposes of this collection is to counterbalance "the recent growth of theoretical, socio-historical and bibliographical approaches to the study of Middle English literature [that} has led to a decline in the amount of literary appreciation, and to the neglect ...of poets who are not at the centre of the present-day taught canon." The volume contains twelve essays, five on ME lyric poetry (broadly defined), three on ME drama, and four dealing with longer narrative works. They are arranged roughly in chronological order, with each essay focusing on a distinc­ tive aspect of a particular work or a small cluster of works. In the first of the several essays on lyric poetry, Karl Reichl proposes that the apparent simplicity of many early Middle English secular lyrics-a simplicity suggestive of popular songs-actually belies the writers' conscious and sophisticated imitation of such works.Reichl be­ lieves, however, that some of the lyrics in MS Rawlinson D.913 come close to being true reflections of folk poetry, and he cites "Maiden in the mor lay" as an example.On the whole Reichl's argument is persuasive, 308 REVIEWS though the connection he attempts to establish between "Maiden in the mor lay" and certain Portuguese and Spanish ballads seems more tenuous. In his own contribution to the collection, Oliver Pickering com­ ments on the distinctive stylistic features shared by a small group of fourteenth-century religious poems, and suggests the possibility of their common authorship. The most essential feature of this group, he finds, is the use of concentrated visual images not unlike those that occur in seventeenth-century "metaphysical poetry." Pickering refers to four of these poems-the "Dispute between Mary and the Cross" being the best known-as the Dispute group, and he associates them with other somewhat similar poems--e.g., The Devils' Parliament and Richard Maidstone's translation of the seven penitential psalms. This larger group of poems, Pickering believes, reflects a tradition of reli­ gious poetry "distinguished by compressed argument and daring image." In another article on Middle English religious lyrics, Julia Boffey discusses the lyric strategies that underlie many late-medieval religious lyrics such as those found in Balliol College MS 354 (Richard Hill's MS). Boffey shows how these poems manage to encapsulate sub­ ject matter that "is amenable to much more capacious exposition, and to find ways of making it arresting and memorable." Her essay also deals with titulus-verses-poems written to accompany wall paintings or other visual images-and on the relationship between pictura and lit­ teratura. Her discussion of Lydgate's Testament and the series of carved wooden plaques in Holy Trinity Church at Long Melford is particularly compelling. In his discussion of The Simonie, Derek Pearsall considers the ways in which this powerful poem of complaint against the times is like and unlike other works belonging to this genre of satiric poetry. Pearsall believes that The Simonie is not a poem in which the depiction of social...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 308-311
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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